SUDIRMAN CUP 2013 Day 3 – Auf Wiedersehen, Malaysia

Malaysia ended the day defeated on home soil, as Germany denied their progression to the quarter-finals, where they ought to have made the local supporters proud. Germany bade the home […]

Malaysia ended the day defeated on home soil, as Germany denied their progression to the quarter-finals, where they ought to have made the local supporters proud. Germany bade the home team auf wiedesehen (‘goodbye’ in German) with a close 3-2 victory, to make their way into their first ever quarter-finals.

By Ooi Ee Lyn, Badzine Correspondent live in Kuala Lumpur. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

There were two very different stories going on in the stadium this evening. For Korea and Thailand, it was a case of ‘win for a better draw’, where losing was not fatal; but for Malaysia and Germany, it was a ‘win or die’ situation, where a loss in the tie would result in exit from the tournament.

In the afternoon, the spectators were gathered behind Court 2 where China took on Indonesia, but the evening saw the crowd shift to the left area to occupy the stands behind Court 1 to show their strongest support to the home team. Although still not full, the week had not seen the stadium with this number of people gathered so far to watch and give their support.

Malaysia was desperate to break through of course, playing on home soil, but such things are usually easier said than done. Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying fell helpless to Michael Fuchs / Birgit Michels (pictured right) after battling for three games, putting the fear in the Malaysian team having lost the first – and very crucial – point.

Backstage post-match, the Germans were extremely joyful. “This is a crucial match for us to win. We had good leg speed and good mid-court control. It was a close game and a long match. Obviously the Malaysians did a lot of things right, but maybe we were a little lucky towards the end,” said Fuchs as he joked, “Oh, and I didn’t shave this morning. [Probably that’s the lucky charm] Never shave a winning team!” he continued, as he laughed, obviously incredibly happily.

On the darker side, Goh Liu Ying was weak and soft, “Our serves used to be our advantage, but I’m not satisfied with them today.  It was affected by the drift, and we didn’t manage to do our best. We never thought of giving up, but towards the end when we were four or five points behind, it was just hard to maintain.

Lee Chong Wei was, as ever, the pillar and hope of the team, silencing Dieter Domke in straight games. Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong were left out after their loss against Chinese Taipei on Sunday, but Lim Khim Wah / Goh V Shem played their part well, sweeping Ingo Kindervater / Johannes Schoettler off their feet without needing a third game. Lim/Goh’s victory added to Lee Chong Wei’s gave Malaysia a 2-1 lead.

Olga Konon – star of the night

In the absence of Germany’s top women’s singles Juliane Schenk, Malaysia might have expected to settle the tie with Tee Jing Yi stepping onto the court, but it turned out that Germany’s world #65 Olga Konon (pictured left) was too good for her tonight. Tee lost the match 12-21, 14-21 and tossed the destiny of the team into the hands of Woon Khe Wei / Vivian Hoo.

Tee, holding back her tears after the match, said, “My speed was very low. My speed and skills – I still have much that I hope to improve on. I’ve never met her [Olga Konon] before, and I never expected her to be so good today. She controlled the entire game.

The 23-year-old heroine for Germany, born in Belarus, had served the Polish team before playing for Germany. After earning one of the most significant matches of her career and for her team, Konon’s mood was bright. “I got the energy from my team. They were very supportive, and I felt more excited to win a point for them than to win for myself.

With the fate of her team in her hands while competing against Tee Jing Yi, Konon denied feeling pressured: “I don’t feel tired at all. The team was so supportive, and I feel like they trust me and support me, and I wanted to give them the best. We have great team spirit. We’re a really great team.

With the home team’s destiny now on the line, Woon Khe Wei / Vivian Hoo (pictured right) fought hard for every point as the local crowd cheered on for them. All the hard work – of the players and the supporting crowd – came to naught, however, when Birgit Michels / Johanna Goliszewski clinched the final point in the decider, thus presenting Germany with their third and winning point of the tie. Malaysia fell, defeated by Germany 2-3, and Birgit Michels was responsible for two out of the three points that bought Germany their historical quarter-finals VIP ticket.

Following the victory, what Johanna Goliszewski had to say was simple. “Juliane and Marc did not show up, and it was the worst situation for us. But we can still win any match, so keep fighting!

Clean sweep for Korea

At the quieter end of the stadium, a fully-geared Korean team claimed a clean sheet from Thailand. Korea now tops Group B, while Thailand head to the quarter-finals as the runners-up of the group. Topping the group, Korea may proceed further into the knock-out rounds without China in their way at least for the quarter-finals, while Thailand’s fate is left to be decided at the draw ceremony which will take place later tonight.

Meanwhile, USA lost to Scotland 1-4, again the Americans’ only point coming from Paula Lynn Obanana / Eva Lee. In the third division, Switzerland got themselves a straight victory from Lithuania, and Vietnam took Australia 4-1 as Renuga Veeran (pictured left with Jacqueline Guan) – born and raised in Kuala Lumpur – did not manage to claim a point for Australia in either her mixed or women’s doubles matches.

Despite the loss, Veeran said, “It’s very good to be playing in Kuala Lumpur, coming back to my hometown. The crowd is very supportive and enthusiastic, and that’s what you don’t see in Australia. Although we lost to Vietnam, we are still aiming for the top of our pool.

Tuesday evening results:
Level 1
Germany beat Malaysia 3-2
Korea beat Thailand 5-0
Level 2
Scotland beat USA 4-1
Level 3
Switzerland beat Lithuania 5-0
Vietnam beat Australia 4-1

Click here for complete Day 3 results

About Ee-Lyn Ooi